Winter 2013 Magazine

Cat Chat

Cat Writers' Association Communications Contest

By Nancy Marano

For the last four years I've had the honor of chairing an international communications contest for the Cat Writers' Association (CWA). This contest is open to writers, artists, photographers, broadcasters, bloggers and anyone who has published or produced work featuring cats during that year. In 2012, there were over 600 entries in the contest.

I am always amazed by the quality of the work that comes across my desk during this contest. So this year I've decided to share some of it with you. Most of the entries I'm going to mention are books but I will give you an idea of some of the other work as well. Each regular category is judged by three people who are professional members of CWA. Winners in the regular contest categories receive a MuseT Medallion like those shown at the top of this article. Those who win one of the special awards receive a monetary award from $500-$1000 as well as a commemorative plaque or other prize. Special awards are judged by professionals in the animal world who are not members of CWA.

In the children's book category this year there were two outstanding books you definitely should get to know.

The winner of the MuseT Medallion and the World's Best Litter-ary Award was Moo Kitty Finds a Home by Valerie Veltre (Squidy Press, 2011).

When Moo Kitty's owner dies, Moo, an older, house cat is abandoned to the city streets. He is guided by the words of three guardian angel cats who tell him to have faith that he will find a new home. With the help of some caring people he is taken to the shelter. Here he finds a new set of challenges as he watches the younger cats being adopted while he remains in the cage. He never gives up, though, and one day his hopes are realized when a little girl finds Moo Kitty. She adopts him and he becomes her forever friend.

This wonderful, gentle book grabs you from the first page and Moo Kitty will purr his way right into your heart. It is a testament to the joy of adopting older pets. It also points out the work shelters do in trying to get all animals adopted. Hopefully this book will lead you to think about adopting an older pet the next time you are looking for an animal companion. At the end of the book the author provides information on the benefits of adopting older animals, what to look for before adopting and how to settle an older pet into your family. This book should be in every library. It is aimed at children and but is excellent for adults, too.

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin (Amulet Books/Abrams, 2011) won the Fancy Feast Love Story Award.

Oona, the ten-year-old narrator, has already faced the death of her father. Now her cat, Zook, short for Zucchini, is very sick. She tries to spare her younger brother Freddy by telling him "whoppers" about Zook's past lives. She insists Zook has nine lives and he is only on his fifth one. Oona puts her feelings about her mother's new boyfriend, other children at school and the people around her into the stories she tells. This gripping book of love and loss is told realistically but with a great deal of empathy for the characters. Children will relate to Oona and her family and will learn how difficult it is to lose someone you love whether they are human or animal. We also learn Oona's way of turning horrible losses into something more positive. This is a must-read book that I recommend highly for every library and school for ages 8 and up.

In adult fiction there are two more authors you should read if you haven't already. Both have written long-running series featuring cats.

Cat Telling Tales, (Harper Collins/Morrow Avon, 2011) won the MuseT Medallion for Fiction this year. Joe Grey, Dulcie and a band of talking cats inhabit the novels of Shirley Rousseau Murphy.

The seaside town of Molena Point, CA is home to a band of talking cats who are descended from ancient Celtic cats. Their intelligence and sleuthing techniques are put to the test with a story of cats abandoned through foreclosures, the death of a homeless woman in her burned home, an orphaned boy and the arrival of a woman who claims to be destitute when she is not. Murphy creates characters the reader cares about from one novel to the next. Whether you've read the other books in this series or you are coming to this as a new reader, you will enjoy the cats and people Murphy has created.

Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta (Forge Books, 2011) by Carole Nelson Douglas won a Certificate of Excellence. She is another prolific writer who keeps the balls of several series in the air at once. Her cat series features Midnight Louie, cat detective extraordinaire, and his female helper, Temple Barr.

This time Temple and Midnight Louie are begged by Savannah Ashleigh, a B-movie actress, to solve the death of her wealthy Aunt Violet's handyman. Aunt Violet plans to leave her estate to her resident cats but there are many people trying to keep this from happening. Temple's chaotic private life is crowded with former and present fiancées. Each chapter of this appealing book is told from another character's point-of-view. This is a good introduction to the series.

Cat Calls by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan (Square One Publishers, 2011) is on the non-fiction side of the equation. Adlon was the first full-time cat sitter in New York City. She relates anecdotes about the cats - famous and not - who she has met in the last 35 years. Along with the stories, some of which will make you laugh, she discusses many of the problems people have with their feline companions. Each problem is illustrated with an anecdote from her cat sitting practice. She teamed up with Logan, who is the editor of Cat Fancy, the ultimate cat magazine. Together they have produced an entertaining, engaging, information-packed book on cat care. Even seasoned cat owners will find useful information here.

Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets by Allie Phillips (Brown and Littlefield, 2011) won a Certificate of Excellence this year.

This book is for anyone who wants to work toward making the world a better, more compassionate place for animals. Through sharing her personal story Phillips shows how everyone can become an advocate for animals. The book offers practical ways you can advance the cause of animal protection by volunteering at a rescue or shelter, donating money, or going deeper into the animal movement and working on legislation and changing policy. Phillips is an attorney, lobbyist, advocate and rescuer. If you want to become involved, this book is a good "how-to."

Forever Paws (Lighthearted Press, 2011) by Christine Davis won in the gift book category.

When you get a companion animal, you know the day will come when you have to let that animal go. All pet owners dread the loss of one they've loved dearly. This book is a small treasure. It honors the relationship and deep bond we have with our companion animals. The whimsical, lovely illustrations, also done by Davis, perfectly capture the fun and joy our animals bring us. It tells a tale that will bring tears to your eyes but comfort to your heart. Forever paws glow when the animal is born. They lead a pet to its special person and will reunite you in the afterlife. This is an excellent gift for someone mourning the loss of an animal.

The winning website was authored and run by Ingrid King and her cats Allegra and Ruby. King is an award-winning author for the book Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. The website contains articles on feline medicine, feline behavior, a blog, and interaction with her readers. It is a site that is worth your visit.

There are several other blogs you might want to check out. The winner in the educational blog category was Robin Olson for This blog is not only educational in its articles but fun to read with lovely pictures as well. Olson does fostering and runs a rescue group called Kitten Associates.

Another blog you might want to try is run by Bernadette Kazmarski. This blog features daily photographs, sketches, stories and informational articles.

If you are in the mood for a laugh, read the cartoons of Stephanie Piro. She is a multiple award winner for her cat cartoons and she is the Saturday cartoonist for Six Chix published by King Features. You can find her cartoons and other activities at her website, or on her blog at I highly recommend her work any time you need a pick-me-up of the humorous kind.

The winner of the MuseT Medallion for Illustration (Series) and the Kuykendall Image Award was Jane Denny for her series of cards, The Twelve Cats of Christmas. These can be found at The judge for the Kuykendall Image Award said, "Depicting the twelve days of Christmas with cat characters is a brilliant concept. The clever tongue-in-cheek series could only be conceived by a true cat person! It's presented in a very hip graphic style. (I especially love the French Cats and the Cats-a-Laying.) I had to laugh at the 12 Cats Drumming - again only a cat person could come up with these concepts."

While Jackson Galaxy, better known as Cat Daddy, was not entered in the contest, he did give a talk at the conference. Many of you have seen his show, My Cat from Hell, on Animal Planet. He is a bald, tattooed guy who looks more like a biker than a cat behaviorist. But when he talks in his soft voice and rather self-effacing manner, you see the gentle man behind the façade. His memoir, Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me about Life, Love and Coming Clean (Tarcher, 2012), tells how he was rescued by a small, gray and white cat named Benny and went on to become the "cat whisperer" he is today.

This short list of winners from the CWA contest will give you an idea of how much excellent information, fiction and fun is out there for you to explore. Your cats will thank you for making the effort.

Nancy Marano is an award-winning writer who is owned by two cats, Callie, a tortoiseshell, and Max, a black, panther wannabe. She is a member of the Cat Writers' Association and Dog Writers of America.

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